Staffordshire NHS Trust Suspends Surgeon Over Risk Claims

A Surgeon Has Been Suspended After Being Accused Of Putting Patients At Risk

16.04.2014

The University Hospital of North Staffordshire Trust has suspended a surgeon after he was found to have used unproven techniques that put patients at risk.

Although the consultant was not named, it has been revealed that he was suspended in 2013 after concerns were raised by other doctors over his use of a "new and unproven technique" that had not been approved.

University Hospital of North Staffordshire Trust is now reviewing the past treatment of 88 patients who might have suffered harm at the hands of the surgeon and brought in the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) to provide an independent report into the doctor's methods.

An excerpt of the organisation's review read: "The patients in the review have at least not been helped, and at worst have come to harm due to the standard of care provided."

The controversial method involved 33 patients being treated using an artificial bone substitute, which "diverged" from standard practice.

A further 19 patients were found to have potentially come to harm after they were given "unnecessary surgery" when other less invasive procedures should have been considered, while 36 people should have had more options considered other than surgery.

Robert Courteney-Harris, the University Hospital of North Staffordshire Trust's medical director, said: "I should like to express my sincere regret and apologies to any patients who have, or may have, been harmed.

"The trust has a clear protocol in place governing the use of new and unproven procedures and techniques."

Mr Courteney-Harris added that as soon as concerns were brought about the surgeon was suspended and he has not worked for more than a year.

Gareth Rowlands, clinical director of surgery at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, added: "We have also had a handful of complaints raised by patients as well [as those from doctors]."

Late last year, the University Hospital of North Staffordshire Trust was at the centre of a row over staff morale, after a union said poor finances were leaving doctors and nurses demotivated, reported the BBC.

Expert Opinion
We are deeply concerned to hear of the RCS findings into this surgeon’s practice as no patient should come to harm or be forced to undergo unnecessary surgery while in hospital.

“The Trust must ensure it is communicating effectively will all patients and families affected and ensure that they are offered any further necessary treatment or support.

“Investigations must also look at how it was possible for this surgeon to perform unregulated surgery on so many patients and whether more could have been done to stop him sooner to prevent the situation from escalating to this scale.

“It is vital that any lessons learned from this incident are shared throughout the NHS and communicated transparently to ensure no further patients are put at risk.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner